Airline sues programmer over airfare 'hacking'

An American airline company has sued a young computer programmer after he figured out a way to get heavily discounted airfare.

Aktarer Zaman, 22, who owns the website Skiplagged.com, allegedly illegally promoted the use of his techniques online. Skiplagged allowed passengers to skip the final leg of a flight – making some long haul tickets a lot cheaper than short haul ones.

For example, A passenger who wants to go to Chicago could buy a ticket to Los Angeles but get off the airline's flight at Chicago instead, meaning they avoid a higher fare.

The lawsuit against Zaman, filed by the Illinois federal court, stated that his techniques represented “federally unfair competition, tortuous interference with contract, breach of contract, and common law misappropriation."

The airline company has asked that the court shut down Skiplagged.com and award monetary damages to all affected. Zaman has asked through the website for contributions towards his legal defence.

"I launched Skiplagged.com last year with the goal of helping consumers become savvy travellers," he wrote on the online forum Reddit. His methods, he added, "have potential to easily save consumers up to 80 percent. Finding these has always been difficult before Skiplagged because you'd have to guess the final destination when searching on any other site."

The complaint maintains that “hidden city” ticketing is strictly prohibited for commercial flights because of logistical and public safety concerns.